Legislation to prepare for federal cannabis legalization now has a foothold in the U.S. Senate.

Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., formally filed the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult-Use Regulated Environment (PREPARE) Act on Dec. 1 in the upper chamber. The bill directs the U.S. attorney general to develop a regulatory framework for when the federal government legalizes cannabis.

The bill is a Senate companion to an identical House version Reps. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Brian Mast, R-Fla., filed in April. 

RELATED: Trio of U.S. Representatives Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Prepare for Federal Cannabis Legalization

“A decade after Colorado pioneered marijuana legalization, Americans overwhelmingly support the same at the federal level,” Hickenlooper said in a press release. “This bipartisan, bicameral framework, based on Colorado’s Amendment 64 Task Force, will replicate our success nationally.”

While Colorado was a guinea pig for adult-use cannabis legalization, with voter approval of Amendment 64 in November 2012 and the state’s subsequent January 2014 launch of commercial sales, lessons learned have served as a benchmark for legislators and regulators who have implemented adult-use reform measures in those footsteps.

Since Amendment 64 was passed, Americans’ support for legal cannabis has grown from 48% in 2012 to 68% in each of the past three years, according to Gallup pollsters.

On Dec. 10, 2012, a month after Colorado voted to legalize cannabis, then-Gov. Hickenlooper convened the Amendment 64 Task Force to provide recommendations for the establishment of regulations. He’s now hoping to replicate that at the federal level.

Specifically, the PREPARE Act aims to accomplish the following:

Direct the attorney general to establish a “Commission on the Federal Regulation of Cannabis” to advise on the development of a regulatory framework modeled after existing federal and state regulations for alcohol; Establish a framework that would have to account for the unique needs, rights and laws of each state, and be presented to Congress within one year of enactment of the PREPARE Act;Ensure the regulatory framework would have to include ways to remedy the disproportionate impact cannabis prohibition has had on minority, low-income and veteran communities; Encourage research and training access by medical professionals; Encourage economic opportunity for individuals and small businesses; and Develop protections for the hemp industry.

The 24-member commission would include representatives from relevant government agencies and offices, individuals nominated by Senate and House leadership, and individuals nominated by other government agencies. The commission would not have rulemaking authority; its only role would be to develop proposals and make policy recommendations.

With Hickenlooper’s formal filing, Joyce said the act not only has further bipartisanship, but now has bicameral momentum toward becoming law.

“This legislation gives lawmakers on both sides of the aisle the answers they need to effectively engage on cannabis reform, safely and effectively regulate it, and remedy the harms caused by the failed war on cannabis,” Joyce said in the release. “With those answers, Congress can develop a much-needed federal regulatory framework that not only respects the unique needs, rights, and laws of each state, but also ensures a responsible end to prohibition and a safer future for our communities. I was proud to lead the introduction of this commonsense bill in the House and thank Senator Hickenlooper for advancing it in the Senate. I look forward to continuing to work with him and my fellow Cannabis Caucus Co-Chairs in the House to pave the way for more comprehensive reform.”

]]>